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Strategic Decision-Making

SSI is at the forefront of research into the drivers of strategic decision-making by civilian and military leaders and planners in the foreign and defence policy domains.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • The cognitive drivers of leaders' behaviour during international crises
  • Rational choice and decision-making
  • The psychology of coercion and deterrence
  • The management and allocation of defence resources
  • Military decision-making in history
  • Classical theories of strategic choice
  • The leadership and planning of complex modern military forces and operations

Lead academics


Effective strategy is an exercise in the prioritisation of national threats and opportunities, making decisions over the allocation of resources between competing commitments, and shepherding those resources as well as possible whilst allowing for response to the unexpected.

SSI has considerable expertise in defence planning in the areas of:

  • Uncertainty
  • Threat assessment and prioritisation
  • The causes and avoidance of strategic shock
  • The management of complex military campaigns and projects
  • National resource allocation

Conceptualising foreign policy as a 'two-level' game, in which domestic and international actors mutually influence each other, allows a comprehensive understanding of how these actors' motivations translate into specific policy outputs.

Our expertise in decision-making theory, political and cognitive psychology, as well as the psychology of leadership, provides us with exceptional insights with which to achieve theoretical and policy impact in this area.

We routinely utilise multi-methodological approaches - including qualitative, quantitative and experimental research - to holistically study the two-level interactions, and model complex dynamics in an academically-rigorous manner. Our cutting-edge models inform policy and scholarly communities alike.

Exploring the past allows us to understand how we got to where we are, to assess change and continuity and to separate the truly important from the more trivial. SSI’s approach to relevant history is vital in research on strategic leadership to understand what we can learn and what remains relevant from historical strategic leadership. Our experts cover a range of individuals, groups and entities, from the ancient world up to more contemporary examples, that have been involved in the formulation and implementation of strategy.

Current research projects include questioning the perceived norm that strategy as a concept did not apply in western thinking prior to 1800, while the theory may have been lacking what strategic leadership entailed before 1800 was active, practical strategy making as evidenced by assessment of the individuals and groups displaying strategic leadership.